The First Brighton Circus Festival

For the latest details of upcoming juggling festivals visit the Juggling Edge Events Listings.

Preston Park


The Brighton Circus Festival was organised as part of the Brighton Festival, which saw The Moscow State Circus pitching up in Preston Park & brought Circus Baobob over to England for the first time. John Kennet also had the rather good idea of throwing a one day juggling festival into the mix as well. Kevin & family, Bob, Bryn, Dave K, Catherine, Andrew & I all went along to enjoy it.

I was driven in to Brighton in Andrew's Mini, Sunday also happened to be the day of the London to Brighton Mini Rally & the streets were full of the little cars. I was introduced to the Mini Enthusiasts world, where all Mini drivers wave at each other on the road (I took over waving duties from Andrew, the sheer volume of Minis meant that he wasn't spending an awful lot of time with his hands on the controls). All Mini drivers were very polite & courteous to each other & it was nice to see that driving can be fun & doesn't have to involve killing each other. I have come to the conclusion that people should either drive a Mini or not at all.

Strange how the most Italian Job style moment was performed by Kevin in his Skoda.

After a brief tour of the city's one way systems we managed to find Preston Park, (quite how we missed the Moscow State set up I'm not sure) & joined Kevin & family for a quick drink & a snack in the cafe. From across the park we could see Jason Perry practising 5 ball 3 up pirouettes, so we wandered over to where the jugglers appeared to be congregating. Andrew broke out his giraffe & after basking in the glory of freemounting in front of spectators he suffered the pain of an equally spectacular fall which put an end to his unicycling for the day. Mighty fine display of stoicism afterwards too.

I partnered Andrew into a club passing workshop hosted by Jason, where Andrew got the hang of picking up in a running pattern. All in the style of Batfink.

Devilstick Peat was scheduled to run a devilstick workshop but had unfortunately broken down on the way down, so John went round asking for a replacement Peat, which in the end turned out to be me. It was nice to see a handful of passers by join in with the fun & learn a new skill, after half an hour or so most were controlling the devilstick pretty well & were trying Double Sticking, half flips & Propellers. I showed a few others some flourishes, tricks adapted from three ball patterns & some moves involving throwing the handstick around the devilstick as well. Mark from London showed us some very nice balancing moves, particularly flicking a devilstick from a chin balance with a half flip into a forehead balance. We all had a go at an almost impossible trick where you hold the devilstick against your foot using the tip of a handstick then kick it round & up into a handstick balance. I didn't see anyone pull it off but it allowed me a great Ministry of Silly Walks moment. I surprised myself with how much I had to say on the subject, I'll have to write some devilstick tutorials sometime. How about how to do Single Sticking as a start?

Throughout the day Andrew was grinning at the sound of every musical airhorn.

The games were great fun. Starting with 3 club gladiators it took several attempts before there was a clear winner of a game. The same thing happened with the unicycle gladiators, only two people entered, a young lad & a big bullying adult. The first couple of games were draws, then at the word go the young lad sprinted off past his opponent & rode halfway across the park. The other guy was forced to follow & somehow he was knocked off, I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't tell exactly what went on. The three coin Cascade endurance saw Jason walk away with the price of a pint, if he could find a pub that would accept so much copper. Dave K & I won the first practise attempt at the long distance passing. I managed to bag a can of beer for being able to do the most pirouettes underneath a high throw (3), I have done 4 before but I did one too many practise attempts I think. Still under the effects of spinning I was well impressed with coming second in the five ball endurance behind Peter, bit of a forgone conclusion that game anyway. The joggling race saw me lose my feet (I wasn't the only one), can't remember who won but everyone was pretty knackered afterwards. All in all lots of fun.

Circus Baobob

To round off the evening a lot us went to see Circus Baobob, who were visiting England for the first time from Africa. The show got off to a storming start with a superb display of tribal drumming & dancing. Fantastically loud & furiously fast, I was amazed at how they managed to maintain the pace. The contortionist was superb & made the whole audience cry out with a nasty spinetwisting move whilst bent over backwards. One of the best acts of the show was the flying trapeze. Set to the theme of a man trying to get his rucksack back from a band of robbers & the robbers themselves staying one step ahead of a bumbling policeman they performed all sorts of impressive leaps & somersaults. Jugglingwise there was a comic clubpassing routine where the police chief tried to keep the people off the drink & in line enough to perform various multiperson patterns such as a Y, 5 point star, 4 person lines with dropbacks & a 13 club typewriter feed. The finale saw everyone return to the village, for more high energy drumming & lots of acrobatics, with multiperson stacks & lots of tumbling. It dragged a little but was a great finish to a superb show.

The solitary Baobob tour bus, brightly painted with cartoons of African life looked cheeky parked next to the rows of professional Moscow State artics & trailers. But what they lacked in size they more than made up for in energy & character. The performers loved what they were doing & it really showed. The whole show was a real joy to watch.

Many many thanks to John for sorting us out with a pair of tickets.

It was a beautiful day which made for a great laid back festival. We juggled a bit, laid around chatting & just had a laugh. I like these relaxed conventions. If John can arrange the same atmosphere for BJC 2003 we're onto a winner. Unfortunately I came away burnt to crimson but I think it was well worth it.